Monthly Archives: August 2008

Interesting way to go

A couple of years ago I ran into a friend on the way home from a weekend ride. Heading home, Heather and I opted for the San Marcos Pass route versus the coast.

A stop at the Cold Springs Tavern is mandatory. Lot’s of motorcycles…mostly the Harley crowd, but a few sportbikes thrown in for flavor. My old friend Matt is the bartender and it’s always good to see him…and by the way…he limits me to ONE ‘light’ beer. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to listen to Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan…two of the most talented and entertaining musicians you’ll ever hear. It’s a great Sunday ride destination. This day turned out a little different.

While enjoying my ‘one’ light beer, checking out motorcycles and enjoying an afternoon in the mountains, the master of high performance exhaust systems for cars, my friend John Wayne taps me on the shoulder. John is a great man. Hot Rodder, biker, terrific dad and friend.

As we were talking about his new bike, a Road King, a group gathered around a bike in the middle of the road. Whats the crowd about? John explained to me what was going on. A riding friend of theirs had passed away recently from cancer. His family had him cremated as per his wishes.Some people put a fancy urn on the mantle, some spread the ashes on the ocean or out in the garden. But what to do with this mans ashes?

This group of riding friends figured it out. Spread his ashes at the places he liked to ride to. They spent the day riding to their compatriot’s favorite destinations to spread his ashes and spirit.

Now…here is the interesting part. At each stop a friend would take a handful of ashes, stand behind another friend on his motorcycle..the rider would rev the engine and spread the ashes with the exhaust blast. All there would cheer, celebrate his life and then ride to the next ‘resting place’.

The most interesting funeral, or in this case, celebration of someones life I have ever been to. I don’t know the man, I don’t even know his name, but I know he was loved by many. We should all be so lucky.

Ride safe, ride fast, ride far and have good friends.
I’ll see you on the road,


What a long strange trip it’s been…

Thank you Jerry Garcia…

No, I’m not a ‘deadhead’ but as I have mentioned before I have put a lot of miles on a motorcycle. From an old BSA to my little Honda 350, to a Kawasaki H2 750 (evil bike that she was..I still love that motorcycle) to a more civil Honda CB750F, back to a Triumph 500 and the list goes on.

Most trips of late have been on a Yamaha TDM850. An Albatross on two wheels. General traveling, motocamping, did it all. And..a lot of it with the beautiful Heather on board and a load of camping gear. Yamaha brought the bike into the U.S for only two years 92/93. It is still available in Europe, even though it’s not quite the ‘Adventure Tourer’ it was back then.

A while back, while cruising the net, I found a really neat site that lets you plot out all the places you have been. Not in great detail but state by state and in Canada.
So, here is where I have been…for the most part….

Ride safe, ride fast and ride far. See you on the road.


when you love going fast

When you love going fast, you will always love going fast. Sammy Haggar put it perfectly…”I can’t drive 55″. I met Sammy Haggar when I was working for a radio station in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a very cool guy.

Another guy I consider a good friend can’t drive 55 either. Meet my friend Kevin Johnson. Willow Springs roadracer extraordinaire, great mechanic and connoisseur of fine Kentucky bourbon. Kevin loves going fast and he loves being with people that feel the same way.

Two years ago Kevin and I helped propel a friend to a Land Speed Record at the Bonneville Salt Flats… get this…on a 1959 Norton.

So what is Kevin doing nowadays?? Building vehicles that go really, really fast. Look at these pictures. When Kevin sent these to me they were titled “what I did on my summer vacation”

A couple of weeks from now are the ‘Bub Motorcycle Speed Trials’ at Bonneville, Utah. Kevin and I planned on being there with our friend Ken Canaga of Left Coast Racing working on a Norton Streamliner to go over 200MPH. A couple of things came up and plans changed. Kevin is going to be racing a Gilera 500CC single at Miller Motorsports Park instead. I envy him.

Like I said, when you love going fast, you love going fast on anything.

Ride safe, ride fast and Kevin…don’t go 55..


The Sunday Ride

Thirty plus years ago was one of the best evenings of my motorcycling life. I was going to UCLA and down the street the local movie theater was playing Bruce Browns ‘On Any Sunday’. I sat there in the theater and watched the movie twice. At around midnight when I was told to leave, they wouldn’t play the movie again for me…not customer service oriented I guess, I walked out into a drizzly night just wanting to ride my motorcycle. Lucky for me, my 1969 Triumph T100R (Daytona 500) was sitting right there.

I rode all night into Sunday morning. Mulholland Drive to Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard to Pacific Coast Hiway, Tuna Canyon to Stunt Road to Mulholland Hiway and back to the coast. It was a great night. Visions of Steve McQueen, Mert Lawill and Malcolm Smith stuck in my mind. My little Daytona never faltered (remember, it had Lucas electrics??!!) and we had a great time.

After arriving home in time to have a cup of tea with my grandmother, a short nap and a couple of phone calls to riding was the best of Sunday rides..up Angeles Crest Hiway. Perfect weather, no traffic, no CHP…nothing but a high giggle factor day.

Riding all night into Sunday doesn’t happen so much any longer, but I still ride a Triumph Daytona. The Sunday ride is still the best part of any week.

This one is different

Good Sunday to you all,

I lost another friend yesterday. This one didn’t have two wheels, he had two legs and two hands. Two very talented hands. Most importantly, a BIG, BIG heart.

I have been riding motorcycles since I was fourteen, but I have been surfing since I was ten. My friend Dave had bought a $10 homemade surfboard and we went to Santa Monica and learned to surf. Later down the road, I bought a P.O.S surfboard and continued surfing. Back then I could go from my house to Malibu on a dollars worth of gas…gas was 25 cents a gallon at most!! We even rode the bus to go surfing.

I started in the surf business doing ding repair for a local surf shop in 1968, I ended up working for them for a lot of years until I started my own surf shop in Ventura in 1990. My son and I opened up a second shop a few years later. During that time we competed around the world..well, not we..he. We made a lot of good friends.

Yesterday, one of those good friends passed away of cancer. Midget Smith. Surfboard builder, contest organizer, professional surfing judge, great coach and terrific father. Midget did more for more kids surfing in the San Clemente area than just about anyone. No, he did do more for these kids than anyone. Midget, along with wife Mary Lou, ran the Western Surfing Association, the most competitive series of surfing contests in the country. He taught kids competitiveness, sportsmanship and a few of them the craft of building surfboards. Midget will be missed by a world wide community.

What has this got to with motorcycles, motorcycle racing or motorcycle traveling? Nothing. Nothing at all. Except the things that my friend Midget taught in the surfing world are good in any world. Motorcycle racing too.

Midget is no small man in any way. His influence was and will continue to be HUGE. Good bye my friend…god speed.

Ride safe, ride fast and ride with your heart in the right place


gettin’ weirder all the time

Good morning all,

I am a fan of Suzuki Superbike pilot Matt Mladin. He is highly skilled, intelligent, outspoken when it comes to rider safety and a really nice man when it comes to talking to fans. All in all a good representative of motorcycling and motorcycle racing.

However, he seems to have pissed off the powers that be in AMA Pro Racing (the DMG). As we have all read, Mr. Mladin was disqualified from last weekends Superbike races at VIR for a possibly illegal crankshaft. HMMMMM.

Matt has been very outspoken regarding the upcoming changes in American roadracing next year. More than just outspoken…critical. American Suzuki/Yoshimura have also been, how do I say this…very displeased with the plans. So unhappy that when DMG head honcho Roger Edmonson came to California to talk to ‘The Big Four’ he made a comment that three out of the four were receptive and one’s behaviour (Suzuki) was unacceptable.

In past Motoworld podcasts, I have spoken with Matt about the changes, he has categorically stated he won’t race 600’s.
So… are we now seeing a ‘pissing war’ between AMA Pro Racing and Suzuki? More pointedly, between AMA Pro Racing and Matt Mladin?

Think about this, in AMA Superbike rules as they currently stand, modifications are pretty minor…Superstock bikes with even less mods are almost as fast as the Superbikes!!?? Team members are pretty much riding the same motorcycle with suspension changes and EFI mapping changes for personal riding styles. Not much else is different. Why was Matt singled out? Shouldn’t AMA Pro Racing have pulled ALL the Yoshimura bikes? They have been more than dominant the past seasons, everyone else racing for maybe third and with Tommy Hayden healthy, probably fourth.

As the old saying goes ‘somethings rotten in Denmark’ or in this case, Florida

It takes balls

Good afternoon all,

Up until a while back, this time of year I would be preparing for the annual ‘3 Flags Classic’ ride put on by the SCMA. It’s a great trip. Somewhere in Mexico to somewhere in Canada in 3 1/2 days on mostly secondary roads. I made new friends, saw new places and got to know myself a bit better. Time inside your helmet does that to one on a long ride.

One particular ‘3 Flags’ ride I came upon this sign. I was laughing so hard I almost rode off the road. Only in the farthest of places in the mountains will this happen. Apparently it’s a big event. Too bad it had already happened, it would have been worth the delay to participate.

Maybe the ‘Testicle Festival’ is a worthy destination for my next big trip? I’ll see if I can convince the wife. I can pretend to be surprised on the way to Glacier National Park or to the Beartooth Pass. What do you think the odds are? Slim and none? Me too.

Ride safe, ride fast and ride far


‘doing the ton’

Cafe Racers, TT racers (as in Tavern to Tavern), whatever you call them, they are way cool.

As you may know, I love the Honda 350…don’t ask, I don’t know. Years back, a good friend of mine ‘Chopped’ one!..the dysfunctional TV family (OCC) could learn something from that bike…and I cafe’d mine out. Clubman bars, Mulholland shocks, different fork springs, a Suzuki500 front drum brake, a CL exhaust (with baffle cut down a little) and a cool seat! You should have seen us riding down the road…we put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional!

Anyway, As I was cruising the net I found a very cool blog about Cafe’ Racers
This guy scours around e-bay, different motorcycle sites and generally all over the place digging up cafe bikes. He comments, posts pictures and in general has fun with it. Apparently he is building his own Cafe’ bike out of his HD Sportster..brave man.

Give it look, I think you’ll find it interesting.
ride safe, ride fast…if you’re on a good cafe racer..

5154 less motorcycles on the road

Good morning all,
This morning on CNN the bubbly news personality reported that automobile fatalities were down again last year. Then added that motorcycle deaths are up for the tenth straight year. That was all. A little digging was in order (no pun intended).

USA Today, Healthlink, The New York Times and more all have the story. Motorcyclist deaths are up 6.6%. 5154 died last year. Why? There are lots of things to look at.

Starting with motorcycle registrations, up 75% compared to 10 years ago. The average age of the motorcycle buyer has risen from 24 to 38 since 1980. In the past, 47 states required wearing helmets, today only 20 require helmets. Average size of a motorcycle has gone from 769cc to over 1000cc since 1990 and horsepower figures have just gone sky high. Older first time buyers, big engines, no helmets, no education = trouble.

With gas prices on the rise (here in the USA we’re just now starting deal with prices that the Europeans have been experiencing for years) motorbike usage is also on the rise. Guys are dragging their old bike out of the back corner of the garage, and more often than not, not upgrading the tyres, brakes, cables, etc. And more importantly not upgrading their helmet from the old 1979 model. Scooter sales have shot up. My friends at Cal Coast Motorsports in Ventura can’t keep them in stock. There is even a GM dealer I saw on the news that has given up it’s Hummer dealership and brought in small electric cars and scooters!!! Good for him.

Now, I’m going to step on my soapbox again. Hey, blogs are for opinions right?

I believe in wearing a good full face helmet…ALWAYS!!! A good jacket and good gloves. Quality boots too. Training. Before you are allowed to get a motorcycle license you must pass the MSF riders course. No exceptions. And if you’re really smart you’ll go to a another school, Keith Code’s California Superbike School, Reg Pridmore’s CLASS or another.

Next, I do believe in a ‘graduated licensing program’. It works in Europe. Being in the motorcycle business, I have a lot of friends in a lot of dealers around the country and I hear stories all the time of guys (women don’t too often do this) buying big bikes and asking the salesman, service tech or lot monkey teach them how to ride it!? And the fact that the dealer guys would do that blows me away as well. A sixteen year old kid with no experience should not be buying nor should be sold a 1000cc Sportbike. The same goes for the 45 year old who has always wanted a Harley but has never ridden anything bigger than a moped when he was in college. Note here, I’m not picking on Harley Davidson, but…that is Harley’s customer. You don’t hear the phrase, “I’ve always wanted a Honda VTX”.

Starting on smaller displacement motorcycles works. You can develop skills, confidence and enjoy riding the motorcycle without being intimidated. The are plenty fast, they come in all flavors (sporty, cruiser style, plain) and colors. They’re not too expensive and if you decide that two wheels really isn’t for you, well, you’re not going lose thousands of dollars. If it does fall over, you can pick it up. A good thing, because ain’t nobody else going to help you, they’re too busy laughing.

That’s enough for today. Next is what the government can do to help the situation. Lets, make the roads more ‘2 Wheel Friendly’. Teach car drivers to see motorcycles…on and on.

Ride safe, I’ll see you on the road.

Sleeping under the stars

A couple of weeks ago I got to do one of things I love to do most, go traveling on my motorcycle. This addiction started back in the early seventies with a trip up into the Sierra’s on my BSA Lightning 650. I rode with my high school friends Benny and Mike. Benny on a ‘chopped’ Honda CB350 and Mike on a Yamaha XS650.

We took off on a warm sunny day, first stop Mammoth Lakes. We took a route that I still take to this day. Up the Kern River, over Sherman Pass then up HWY395. None of us had ever gone that far in one day and we were whooped! Back then we didn’t have tiny tents and tiny sleeping bags, we didn’t even have saddle bags! Everything was strapped on the bike somehow or another. So after a cheap dinner at the local McDonalds it was toss the sleeping bags on the ground and call it a great day. Our trip went like that for the next four days. What a great time, I was now hopelessly addicted to Moto Traveling.

Since that first trip I figure I have put nearly 400 thousand miles on a motorcycle. All over the western USA and Canada, what fun and adventures. Blazing hot days to being snowed on. Rain for days on end and getting blown off the road in Wyoming. Coming eye to eye with a moose in the middle of the road and watching a woman knitting while sitting on the back of a Honda Valkyrie. Almost running out of gas in Clorado to almost running off the road in Glacier National Park…yes, the scenery is that stunning!

So here I am over forty years later, traveling on my motorcycle. Nowadays, I do have saddlebags and a little tent, a little sleeping bag, a fancy air mattress and all kinds of great camping do-dads. Ah, modern technology and conveniences.

Well, this trip I decided (after checking the computer for weather info) that I was going to go retro…back over thirty years. Sleeping bag under the stars. My traveling companions opted for tents and air mattresses, wimps! The first night out we camped at Onion Valley in the Eastern Sierra’s. Nearly 9000 feet and truly beautiful. Sleeping next to the dying campfire, listening to the waterfall and looking at the Milky Way brought back the memory of that first trip and why I love MotoCamping.

Sleeping under the stars, there is no better way to end a day of motorcycle riding. So where can I go next? Where is my map??

Ride safe, ride fast, ride far and I’ll see you on the road